Terrorism and organised crime in post-Soviet Russia

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This report explores the sources and nature of the terrorism that has afflicted Russia in post-Soviet time. The study focuses on three main contexts where terrorism has been generated: extremism based on ideological or social motives, organised criminal activity, and ethnic and separatist conflicts. As a generator of violence and terrorism, ideologically and socially motivated activism has played a marginal part. The violent acts of political extremists in Russia have been limited in scope, and they have rarely had more than symbolic significance. It would not seem likely that this kind of terrorism should become a greater threat. Organised crime has been the major source of terrorism in Russia. Criminal structures have victimised not only competitors, but also authorities, politicians and other public figures, like journalists, to an extent that makes Russia stand out among countries plagued by organised crime. This terrorism may be abating, as economic and political realities are becoming less conducive to its occurrence. A reduction in organised crime’s use of violence is conceivable. However, one may find a sharper divide between central parts of Russia and regions where legitimate authority is less efficiently exercised. The primary source of terrorism in Russia in the years to come will probably be conflicts nurtured by ethnic animosity, coupled with adverse economic interests. Such conflicts are characteristic of the Caucasus region. Any substantial decrease in violence and terrorism there would seem to be conditional upon massive surveillance and control measures. Chechnya may become an equivalent of Northern Ireland. It will almost certainly continue to be the setting for frequent terrorism. As in the past, terrorism as part of the Chechen separatist fight is likely to afflict adjacent regions, and also Russian core areas.
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